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Is Sobo squash dead?

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With Marcus Muhariwa:

A few weeks ago all of us who are pro-environme n t celebrated the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeals ruling which upheld a ban on the production, distribution, and importation of thin and single-use plastics. We were all happy because these menacing plastics would be eliminated once and for all.

Further good news followed about a week or so after when the government announced that it would start enforcing the ban right away. Manufacturers would not be given a grace period to finish selling already-manufactured stocks because they had had the opportunity to do that since 2015.

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It is regrettable that all this positive momentum has been dashed by reports last week that, after all, the government is not ready to start enforcing the thin-plastics ban. The Spokesperson in the Ministry of Environment Affairs Sangwani Phiri was quoted as saying his ministry has no resources to facilitate enforcement of the ban.

I find it annoying and very frustrating that having first imposed the ban on thin plastics in 2015 and fighting challengers of the policy for the past four years, now when it has been given the all-clear to enforce the ban the ministry responsible can shamelessly say there is no money. Is this some kind of a joke?

The ministry of environment needs to take its own policies seriously if it expects the same from everyone else. I am made to believe that the manufacturers of these polluting plastics in Blantyre and Lilongwe have taken advantage of this laxity and they continue to produce these banned plastics. Who can blame them?

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And talking about the production of goods, what happened to the production of arguably Malawi’s all-time favorite drink Sobo squash? At first, I thought it was just me and my family that had noticed that Sobo squash was missing in action until I overheard a conversation in which someone was complaining about the same. Before long I saw the same conversation on Tweeter.

I cannot find Sobo squash in any of the leading supermarkets, and not just in Lilongwe but I am told it’s the same in Blantyre and Mzuzu. Has Castel Malawi stopped manufacturing the beverage and forgot to mention it to anyone?

I know Sobo squash got into turbulent winds in 2018 when its “cooking” became suspect. Yes, it had to be pulled off store shelves because of health safety concerns after some buyers noticed impurities, but never in my wildest thoughts did I begin to think that what was happening was a sign that Malawi’s treasured drink was going into extinction.

I honestly don’t want to accept that a drink as darling to all of us as Sobo squash can simply just cease to exist just like that and no one bothers to explain what happened. As loyal Sobo consumers, I believe we are owed an explanation.

For most of us, Sobo squash was like a family member. When a family member has been missing nobody sleeps until they learn what happened to their loved one. Under these circumstances, even the dreaded news that the loved one is dead is welcome because by now all that everyone wants is closure. Is Sobo squash dead?

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